Travelling north from Belfast, we followed the coast to Carrickfergus, hoping to explore the magnificent Norman castle perched on the northern edge of Belfast Lough.
We were once again disappointed to find, not only was it closed for the winter season, the imposing entrance was covered, undergoing restoration.
In 1177, Sir John de Courcy, an Anglo-Norman knight, decided he wanted some lands for himself. He gathered a small army and headed to northern Ireland. After a few battles along the way, he conquered eastern Ulster and built the castle as his headquarters. Strategically placed, surrounded almost entirely by water, the fortress has withstood invasion by the Scottish, Irish, English and French over the centuries. No wonder there is always someone on guard.
We would have liked to wander around the castle and the historical displays that are housed within. We had to settle for a glimpse of the 17th century cannons just visible along the battlements.